Elder Abuse Attorney Michigan
What Is Elder Abuse?
According to the Administration for Community Living, “elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.”
Unfortunately, elder abuse happens to hundreds of thousands of older people each year. Almost anyone could be an abuser of elders. Abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults are all crimes. There are ways in which you can protect your loved one from exploitation and harm.
At Lipton Law, our injury lawyers understand the nuances of elder abuse, as well as how family members can protect their loved ones.
Types of Elder Abuse
There are many different types of elder abuse that can be filtered into a few key categories. Below, we outline the most common forms of elder abuse, as well as what they involve:
Physical abuse involves physically harming an elder. Some examples include hitting, slapping, bruising, or physically restraining the senior.
Emotional abuse occurs when a caretaker uses verbal or nonverbal conduct to cause mental or emotional distress or anguish to the older person. Examples include humiliation, threatened harm, or intimidation.
According to Michigan law, sexual abuse is defined as “forcing or coercing an individual to engage in any non-consensual sexual contact.” All forms of non-consensual sexual contact are included in this category of abuse.
Financial abuse, or financial exploitation, involves illegally taking or misusing a senior’s assets in order to financially benefit another person. This type of abuse can also concern property.
Neglect occurs when those responsible for caring for the elder, such as a nursing home employee, fail to provide certain necessities. Examples of these necessities include food, water, shelter, or other human services and health care.
Abandonment involves a caretaker deserting an older adult, leaving them to fend for themselves. This action becomes abandonment if the person responsible for their care has assumed responsibility for that care.
Self-neglect occurs when an elderly person cannot perform basic self-care functions. When this lack of care threatens their life or health, a caretaker may be held liable for their self-neg
What Constitutes Elder Abuse?
Many specific actions or inactions can constitute elder abuse. Examples of physical abuse include kicking, pushing, hitting, slapping, and even the use of physical restraints.
Examples of other types of suspected abuse include the following:
- Sexual interactions with elders with mental or physical impairment
- Failing to protect an older adult’s health, which then leads to illness or injury
- Allowing self-neglect to occur
- Name-calling, belittlement, cutting elders off from resources or family members
- Unauthorized or improper use of resources that belong to the elder
There are many different examples of elder abuse that we could list. What’s important to remember is that all forms of elder abuse are both illegal and unacceptable.
At Lipton Law, our elder abuse lawyers are passionate about securing both justice and compensation for your loved ones. Contact us today if you suspect elder abuse has occurred or is occurring to your elder family member.
How Common Is Elder Abuse?
Abuse, neglect, or exploitation of elders is, unfortunately, much more common than you might think. According to the National Council on Aging, up to five million people suffer elder abuse every year in the United States. This leads to an estimated $36.5 billion in losses for victims.
While many people never hear of or experience elder abuse firsthand, it is a silent problem in the United States. Abuse of older adults could lead to depression, withdrawal, a loss of dignity, illness, injury, or even wrongful death. Legislation to protect older adults has become more of a priority in recent years, but the system is nowhere near perfect. That’s why we provide Michigan legal help for families and their older loved ones in cases of abuse.
Why Does Elder Abuse Happen?
There are nearly countless reasons why elder abuse may occur. Even in individual cases of abuse, there may be multiple factors contributing to the abuse. Although there is never an excuse for the abuse of another person, it’s important to understand why it happens. When we understand why, we can begin to understand how to prevent it.
Some of the most common reasons behind vulnerable adult abuse include but aren’t limited to:
- Abusive interaction styles: Some families have abusive styles of communication and interaction, even with children. When the children become adults, they might have retained this learned behavior of abuse and hostility. They also may have unresolved conflicts with their older family members. Either way, elders may be abused, neglected, or exploited due to learned behaviors or role reversal.
- Dependence: When an elderly person becomes dependent on someone else, this will deplete that person’s financial and material resources to some extent. This dependency can lead to physical health or mental health abuse.
- Stress: When someone has too few resources to handle caring for an older adult, this can cause a great deal of stress. If the stress is left to build for a significant amount of time, it may turn into resentment and lead to abuse or neglect.
- Substance abuse: Abuse of any substance, be it drugs, alcohol, or otherwise, can hinder someone’s ability to cope with certain situations. If caretakers are struggling with substance abuse, this may lead to the abuse of others.
- Ageism: Ageism involves holding a prejudiced view of seniors. Adhering to false, negative stereotypes about elders can lead to different types of abuse.
Who Is Liable for Elder Abuse and Neglect?
It’s important to understand who the potentially liable parties are in an elder abuse case. Individuals or even entire nursing home facilities may be responsible for any immediate danger or emotional harm caused to elders. It’s important that you work with a trusted attorney in order to gather evidence of the abuse. This will help you to establish culpability.
The potentially liable parties for cases of elder abuse include but aren’t limited to:
- Health care professionals: This could mean anyone responsible for providing health care to the older adult. Examples include doctors, surgeons, nurses, and even physical therapists.
- Family members: Members of the family could also be responsible for the abuse. The reasons for the abuse may vary and can include actions such as health care fraud, misuse of the older adult’s funds, and much more.
- Nursing home facility: Facilities in which the older adult stays could also be held liable for abuse. Nursing homes and elder care facilities are generally places where elders stay until they pass on. These facilities are expected to conduct background checks, maintain security, properly train employees, and maintain sanitary conditions. When a nursing facility fails to do this, it could be held liable.
- Caregivers: Caregivers other than family members could also be held liable for abuse. Examples of other caregivers include spouses, neighbors, and even social workers.
- Third-party workers: Other workers at elder care facilities may not be permanent employees of the facility. They might be contractors or another third-party entity. If they cause harm to a resident, they and the facility may be held liable for abuse.
What Are the Warning Signs of Elder Abuse?
The warning signs of elder abuse vary depending on the type of abuse that someone is suffering. If you suspect abuse, it’s important to look for the following warning signs before contacting the appropriate legal authority on the matter.
- Weight loss
- Visible injuries such as cuts and bruises
- Unexplained broken bones or other injuries
- Medication errors or missing medication
- Poor hygiene or unsanitary conditions
- Missed medical appointments
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Abnormal changes in sleep patterns or behavior
- Isolation from activities and loved ones
- Feelings of fear or anxiety
- Hesitating to say things in front of certain staff members or their caregivers
- Unpaid bills
- Missing valuable items
- Changes in patterns of spending
- Sudden changes in property or wills
- Purchasing large and expensive items that the elder will not personally use
How to Prevent Elder Abuse
It’s important to understand that there are many ways in which you can help prevent elder abuse.
You can implement the following changes to reduce your loved one’s risk of suffering from elder abuse:
- Encourage both close friendships and community involvement.
- Provide necessary support to primary caregivers to lower stress levels.
- Maintain a schedule of physical activities to improve mobility and independence.
- Refuse caregivers who have a history of abuse.
- Remain cautious of caregivers or family members who are financially struggling
- Find community groups that can provide support for mental illness, emotional support, and other helpful services.
- Stay vigilant for the signs of elder abuse.
- Check-in on loved ones regularly.
- Read reviews and testimonials from others about nursing facilities.
How to Report Elder Abuse in Michigan
It’s important to report abuse as soon as possible to the proper authorities. This way, you can prevent further abuse and hold all responsible parties accountable. First, we recommend that you call the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services at 855-444-3911.
You should also call Adult Protective Services. Even if you are not required by mandate to report suspected abuse, you should still report it. If you suspect abuse in a nursing facility, you should call the Michigan Attorney General Health Care Fraud Division at 800-242-2873.
You can also contact the following parties about the alleged abuse:
- Nursing home administrators
- State or local police department
- Long-term care ombudsman
- Department of Insurance and Financial Services
- Office of Recipient Rights
- Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Bureau of Community and Health Systems Abuse Hotline
- Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service
How Can an Elder Abuse Lawyer Help Me?
When you have a legal issue related to elder abuse, it’s important to contact an experienced attorney to help with your case. At Lipton Law, we offer many benefits to family members and friends in need of legal assistance for their elder loved ones.
Below, we outline just a few ways in which we will help you and your family:
- Working with an attorney can give you objective opinions on what kind of care your loved one may need.
- We can also craft a strong power of attorney if your family member suffers from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another type of mental illness. In other words, this will protect your loved one’s financial affairs from outside influence.
- We can also help you apply for Medicaid and veterans benefits, if applicable. This will provide a buffer between your personal finances and the costs of long-term care.
- We can even help you pursue compensation in the unfortunate event that your elder loved one does suffer abuse.
Experienced Michigan Elder Abuse Attorney
At Lipton Law, we understand that it can be frustrating to navigate the legal system on your own, especially when you’re worried about the safety of your loved one. We’re here to help you take control of the situation. We will represent you and your injured loved one after elder abuse has occurred and fight for your right to just compensation. To schedule your free case evaluation with us, please call 248-629-2747 today.